The elimination of abdominal tumors by percutaneous cryoablation has been shown to be an effective and less invasive alternative to open surgery. Cryoablation destroys malignant cells by freezing them with one or more cryoprobes inserted into the tumor through the skin. Alternating cycles of freezing and thawing produce an enveloping iceball that causes the tumor necrosis. Planning such a procedure is difficult and time-consuming, as it is necessary to plan the number and cryoprobe locations and predict the iceball shape which is also influenced by the presence of heating sources, e.g., major blood vessels and warm saline solution, injected to protect surrounding structures from the cold.
This paper describes a method for fast GPU-based iceball modeling based on the simulation of thermal propagation in the tissue. Our algorithm solves the heat equation within a cube around the cryoprobes tips and accounts for the presence of heating sources around the iceball.
Experimental results of two studies have been obtained: an ex vivo warm gel setup and simulation on five retrospective patient cases of kidney tumors cryoablation with various levels of complexity of the vascular structure and warm saline solution around the tumor tissue. The experiments have been conducted in various conditions of cube size and algorithm implementations. Results show that it is possible to obtain an accurate result within seconds.
The promising results indicate that our method yields accurate iceball shape predictions in a short time and is suitable for surgical planning.